Local News Tuesday: Recycling—So Easy A Caveman Can Do It
The recycling trailer itself seemed to support this fear in appearance alone. Parked next to two others on a poorly mown strip of patchy grass next to the older elementary school, the trailer and its trailer friends were painted a stark bathroom white, mottled with patches of rust. In shape, they looked like huge, elongated coffins with sharply angled tops. Across the tops were five separate black doors, individually hinged and made from the same tough plastic as industrial 40 gallon trash cans, like five large cabinets. The doors were at shoulder height to your average adult standing on the ground, but they were angled and tall, which meant that opening them required you to stand very close to the trailer and exert a fair amount of force. They were also lettered in all caps—CARDBOARD, PLASTIC BOTTLES AND MILK JUGS, MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, IRON AND ALUMINUM CANS. To dispose of your recyclables, you lifted the appropriate door and dumped the appropriate material into the appropriate compartment within the recycling trailer.
I started with the cardboard. Cardboard was the label on the leftmost door. Being an English major, it made sense to me to move from left to right, and besides, I had a station wagon–hatchful of broken down moving boxes that Expat and I had used in at least three or our past five moves and that were now too ratty to keep or pass on. Thankfully, all of them would be just small enough to pass through the door on the recycling trailer, so I heaved the door open and got started.
Heaving the door open to any large industrial steel bin is enough to cause me some small amount of anxiety, particularly in the South or during the warmer summer months in colder climes. Aside from the obvious fear of stench or decay, there is always the secondary fear of other things living in the industrial steel bin, like giant roaches or the occasional rat or possibly a stray possum. The Dumpster in the garden home complex where my mother lives in Southern Alabama, for example, is known for the skittering of large roaches, the contingent of angry wasps that guard the trash very closely, and the rather industrious raccoon that like to stare at you with reflective, beady eyes should you decide to walk your trash to the Dumpster during his prime foraging hours of about 10PM to 5AM. It had been a while since my last encounter with angry wasps or a raccoon. Admittedly, the trailers being set as they were against a lovely backdrop of open, abandoned lot and noisy highway and surrounded by absolutely no useful cover didn’t seem an especially conducive environment for larger mammalia. And in theory, since the trailers contained recyclables and not garbage, I shouldn’t have to contend with any of the pests frequently associated with decaying food. So while somewhat reticent, I nonetheless stepped in close to the trailer, swung open the lid-like door, and stood on my tiptoes to peer inside before heaving my crumpled boxes into the trailer’s belly.
What I saw inside did not do much to reassure me.
What I saw inside of the compartment so clearly labeled CARDBOARD were about a dozen 20 ounce plastic bottles and a glossy advertising supplement from the Sunday paper.
Since I've just moved from a state where signs like “Welcome to
Having gone to undergraduate in
The thing that gets me though—that really gets me—is that while the majority of people in other parts of the country might indeed identify as Christian, no one flaunts it as much as the folks south of Mason-Dixon. That Bible Belt moniker? They’re proud of it. Jesus is more than all right with them. So if we all love God, and if God created the earth, and if the earth is God’s “footstool,” as he mentions once or twice, and if he decided to “glorify the place of his feet” with firs and pines and whatnot like he says in Isaiah, then shouldn’t we be all about some glorification of God’s feet, too? Perhaps we could at least reconsider throwing glass away for God to step on.
This month at the Not-Quite-A-Mega-Church-But-Trying where I now work (when I’m not teaching for Flagship State U) has been Stewardship Month. Stewardship Month is really just church lingo for Money Month, or for Tithe-So-We-Can-Run-The-A.C. Month. For the past four weeks, the head pastor has been putting a brand new spin on the same old message: give God back his money, people. God’s the reason you have it, it’s not really yours, and so on. But as long as we’re being good Christians down here in the Bible Belt, what about being good stewards of the rest of that which God gives us? You know, um, the planet? Right. If we were really concerned with good stewardship, you’d think they’d be able to walk 10 feet to recycle. You’d think they wouldn’t leave it to those crazy Norwegians up in
And if that’s not enough to make you reconsider, think of it this way: if the man was turning water into wine, I would be willing to bet—only a small amount, since Jesus doesn’t really condone the whole gambling thing—that he would be all about turning old beer bottles into Glassphalt for paving some roads. Or, if you’re more into the phenomenological end of things, thinks of it as rebirth, resurrection: forget Easter baskets. This spring, lets trot out festively painted recycling baskets. Far fetched? Not really. Which one would teach your kids more about death and resurrection: bunny-shaped baskets full of teeth-rotting, calorie-rich sugary crap or taking a pile of dead cans to the recycling center?
Friends, luddites, people of